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Title: Relative clauses in discourse : Data from Italian spoken language
Authors: Sifletto, Maria Cristina
Advisor: Mereu, Lorella
Keywords: Relative Clauses
Spontaneous spoken language
Issue Date: Oct-2018
Publisher: Università degli studi Roma Tre
Abstract: The present work deals with the realisation of relative constructions, i.e., following Lehmann (1986) the cluster made up of head noun and relative clause, in spontaneous spoken Italian, in dialogues belonging to the Rome section of the Map Task and Spot the Difference sections of the CLIPS corpus. The aim of the study is to present a multi-dimensional inquiry on relative constructions in spontaneous spoken Italian, by connecting at the interface the outcomes of the analysis on the semantic, syntactic and information structure behaviour of relative constructions. The relative constructions of the sample have first been analysed for what regards their semantic nature; for grasping the nuances of the sampled data different semantic types of relatives proposed in the literature have been combined (to name a few, Grosu & Landman (1998), Lambrecht (2002), Scarano (2007), Benincà & Cinque (2014)). The result is a categorisation of five different semantic types, namely restrictives, appositives, maximalising, kind-defining, and pseudo-relatives. Based on this semantic grouping, the sample is then being evaluated for what concerns the syntactic as well as the information structure level. Throughout the work it becomes evident how the nature of the text to which the relatives belong is highly influencing the process of relativisation. By this I mean that the pragmatically oriented nature of the Map Task and Spot the difference dialogues from which the relatives were extracted, has highlighted the connection between a specific type of relatives and its functions and uses, mostly for what concerns restrictive, kind-defining and pseudo-relative constructions, as I am briefly outlining below. The Map Task and Spot the difference dialogues are online spoken interactions with no visual contacts between the speakers. The former gaming dialogue has a task for the two speaker-players that needs to be accomplished in a non-limited amount of time: through verbal interactions only the Instruction Giver must enable the Instruction Follower to reproduce the portion of the route that is missing on the Follower’s map. In the Map Task dialogues relative constructions are used for specific purposes. For describing the route in relation to the objects on the map, the Instruction Giver uses restrictive constructions in order to identify places, objects, portions of the route. She/he uses kind-defining relatives either to outline what kind of objects, e.g., parts of the route the follower should draw, or to sketch what type of objects or details she/he has on the map, especially when they start finding out that there are discrepancies between the drawings. Pseudo-relatives are used for describing an object or a detail of an object right after having stated (or highlighted) the presence of the object on the map. A very similar picture can be sketched for the Spot the difference dialogues, with the difference that the players have equal roles and they have a limited amount of time for finding out the differences between their two drawings. The relatives are used quite in the same way, the only difference being that they are here applied to spotting out how objects or details of the drawings may or may not be present on both maps. Therefore, pseudo-relatives are widely used for describing the content of the drawings, i.e., an object is there and has certain features. Kind-defining are used as well, in terms of defining the features characterising a kind of object or detail, and restrictives are always the linguistic tool for referent identification. For what regards the “interface” nature of relative constructions, starting from restrictive constructions, the conclusions of the present work are in line with studies such as Scarano (2007), that sees this complex NP behaviour on syntactic and informative grounds as a basis for positing a structure that has a unique interpretation at the same time syntactic, semantic and informative. As for kind-defining and pseudo-relative relative constructions the behaviour on the information structure level matches the analysis on the other levels (semantics and uses and functions in the dialogues) as it has just been briefly sketched above. Lastly, for what regards the other two semantic types of relative constructions, maximalising relatives are less frequent and are either used for expressing speaker’s evaluation comments or for giving prominence to the NP identified within the relative clause. Appositives are not a conspicuous feature of spontaneous speech, as the unplanned nature of the latter is not an ideal ground for a speaker to formulate them.
Access Rights: info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess
Appears in Collections:Dipartimento di Filosofia, Comunicazione e Spettacolo
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